Sunday 29 March 2020

A tiny diversion to help lighten these dark times.

With perfect timing, here on the first day of our 'official' Summer (hah! - clocks jumped forward one hour last night) it's actually snowing! So at least I can still say with total accuracy, that the Winter of 2019/20 was the first I've experienced without my seeing one flake of snow, either on the ground or just falling. Now, with four cats a-dozing, two here in living room, two on my bed, 'scuse me while I go and turn the heating up just as they'd expect me to. Brrrrrrrrrr!!!

Btw: This must be the first time I've ever posted twice in one day. Prob'ly won't be the last.  

Saturday 28 March 2020

Appalling ignorance in Russia - and elsewhere, I've no doubt.

On the BBC News last night there was a segment on the Russian government's dilatory response to the virus, the impact on that country only just starting to be felt. Although there is now an official recommendation for social distancing and an injunction for all over-65s to remain indoors there's as yet no enforcement. Public response has been patchy. And up to now there's been no special restrictions on church services. 
Outside one of the tightly-packed Churches a female member of the congregation was questioned on the wisdom of allowing such large gatherings. Her response:-

"It's not possible to get the virus in a church. It's a holy place."
And her profession? She's a doctor.

I'd like go say they deserve what they get, and I would if it weren't for their taking down so many innocents with them. 
So Gawd help us! (but please not them!).

Friday 27 March 2020

Slightly better than one hand clapping - my own two!

Oh dear! Do people around here just not care?
Yesterday evening at 8, despite the chilly outside, I flung open my front window and clap, clap, clapped in support of our National Health heroes - and, as far as I could hear, I was the only one doing so, at least among the houses within earshot. I even turned the T.V. sound off as well as checking out back to listen if anyone may have been in their back garden joining me - Nothing! Not a dickie bird! Particularly disappointing as our area's large general hospital is a mere 3-400 yards away, an imposing structure I see every time I look out of my front window.
Heartening to hear this morning what a success it had turned out to be in other parts - check out JayGee's blog if you haven't already done so -  Thank you John!💟

Yesterday, third day of our 'lockdown' went to my local supermarket and, unsurprisingly, found their new policy had been adopted - they're letting in only 40 customers at a time and there was a queue around the perimeter of the car park, each keeping at least 6 feet apart or, at least, that's the idea, Took me 40 mins of waiting to get in but I'm not complaining about that, and when I did managed to get very nearly everything on my list - only rice wasn't in evidence. But now that's done I'll see if I can make shopping a once-weekly effort instead of my usual two, sometimes three, times a week, though I'd hate to put my back out again. then really will be in trouble. If only cat food bought in bulk wasn't so darned heavy - but they don't care a darned fig about my own well-being, so useless to moan. 

Fervently hope all you precious blogpals of mine will manage to continue dodging the virus bullet - and we can come through this with a healthy bounce without having to mourn many more of our lost ones, most especially any who may be known or even close to us. 
Take special care, my friends. 

Tuesday 17 March 2020

The inevitable happens.......

Of course we could all see it coming - all cinemas within my reach are now closed until further notice. I was contemplating making my last visit today for what's clearly going to be some time - to see in a large and surely mostly deserted auditorium, the new British ('Women's Lib') film, 'Misbehaviour' (featuring, in a shortish role, Greg Kinnear as host Bob Hope at the disrupted 1970 Miss World event in London) - but there's just too much at stake to risk it. 
Major concern for me now, after attending my long-standing appointment to get toenails cut this Sat (getting urgent) is buying food when stringent restrictions come into play on outdoor movements for certain categories, including me as a 70+ oldie. Tried to see how quickly my local supermarket (Waitrose) could do me a home delivery come the time I need it, and as at today there are no slots available for at least a fortnight, and it's sure to get worse. Oh well. Playing it day-to-day seems to be the only way. 

My reviews will resume at the other side of this most troubling time. See ya! (And earnestly hoping you'll all - every single one of you - dodge it!)

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Film: 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Call me a Philistine if you must but. despite the praise being heaped on this film (French, subtitled) from all quarters, I found it as one so conscious of its own 'artiness' (slow-moving, long periods of silence, lingering shots of faces, spare dialogue, many candle-lit scenes) that I was alternately either losing patience with it or falling asleep. With an 18th century story of, to me, little more than moderate interest, (admittedly unusual), and set on a wild and windy Britanny island, it's effectively an entirely female cast of four characters revolving around an unexpectedly developing and furtively expressed Lesbian relationship between a portrait painter (Noemie Merlant) commissioned by a mother to do a painting of her daughter (Adele Haenel) to present to a prospective Milanese husband, a previous daughter having committed suicide rather than accept a similarly arranged marriage. The present daughter is no less reluctant - leading to a 'twist' being that the artist is not to let the young woman know she is being painted and for that same purpose, she being introduced as a companion for the young lady on her regular walks out to the cliffside.  

Even now I'm already feeling exasperated at having to write more about the film. I know I ought to have found it more involving, but the fact is I didn't. There are no explicit sex scenes and what nudity there is brief and somewhat coy, though that made not one jot of difference either way to me.

Direction (by Celine Sciamma who also wrote the screenplay) and camera-work is assured and efficient enough, and scenery is as impressive as one might expect, but I'd turn down any request to sit through this again, unless I was handsomely recompensed for doing so - but note below what other sites are scoring, so there must be an awful lot who've gone all gaga over it. My own rating in terms of the 'enjoyment' I derived is a temperate............5.

(IMDb................8.6 - yes, really! - Rott.Toms...........4.3 / 5 - yes, really! ) 

Monday 2 March 2020

Film: 'The Invisible Man'

This could have been a belter of a thriller. As it is it's still superior to most I've seen of this genre. If only.......well, we'll come to that.

Firstly, dispel any notions of H.G.Wells' classic tale with which this shares its title. 
Elizabeth Moss (not a 'beauty' in the conventional western sense, but what an expressive face!) plays a woman locked - no, imprisoned - into an abusive relationship in a large, isolated.  mansion-sized modern house (filmed in Sydney, N.S.W.) by a man, an 'optics scientist' (?), who wants her to have his baby - and from whom she's ever so desperate to escape. She achieves this in pre-planned fashion and, convinced that he'll do everything he can to search her out, she takes up residence with a sympathetic single man (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter. Shortly afterwards she's shown a newspaper report that not only has this former abusive partner died by suicide, but he's left to her an enormous fortune to be paid out in instalments over many years, but with stringent conditions attached, one of the most important being that she engages in no criminal activity. She suspects it's a hoax, despite being assured that his body's been cremated. Then when she's alone she gets a feeling of a presence in the same room, objects being moved when her back is turned - plus, inevitably,  blankets being pulled off the bed while she's sleeping.  Convinced that somehow the 'deceased' is the culprit it's the familiar tale of no one believing her, ascribing these events to her over-vivid imagination - until the happenings culminate in an horrific murder in public which, to the witnesses present, she herself committed - and thus putting her forthcoming monies in suspension, and her likely to be losing it all. Arrest, hospital incarceration, interviews - it's all presented in formulaic though non-plodding fashion.

The suspense of the first three-quarters of this two-hours film is real nail-biting stuff, most effectively done. Although the final half hour turned into expected and guessable cat-and-mouse game it still had its moments - there having been a heavy hint in the film's first half when she makes a certain discovery of how the denouement will finally play out - but even so, it's a satisfying finish - astonishing twists and all. 

Elizabeth Moss is simply stunningly credible in the part, rarely off the screen she steals most of the scenes with ease.
 Directing, story and screenplay are all by Australian Leigh Whannell who's probably best know for the grisly 'Saw' franchise (I've only seen the original 'Saw' - that was quite enough, thank you!) but I think in this film he does himself proud.

Now for that downside. This is one of those films where a large part of the dialogue is delivered in indecipherable mumbles - and, not only that, also in whispers where, indeed the parties conversing have no particular need to speak in such subdued pitch. Why, oh why do they do this? I think I must have missed at least half of the film's entire script, and sorely wish I'd gone to a subtitled screening, which would have been quite possible. If the film had been trashy it wouldn't have mattered so much but it's a special loss when it otherwise looks to be a good one. I concede that at my age there is bound to be at least some loss in my hearing capacity, though it's still a mystery why I don't experience that lack in other aspects of my life. I always want, at certain points, to ask random members of the audience if they could tell me what had just been said - and the reaction I'd expect in nearly every case would be a shrug of the shoulders and a shake of the head - though it doesn't seem to bother them too much. Maybe it's just me who's too fussy? Or could it conceivably be that the sound reproduction for all my home town's (pop. 110,000) five screens is particularly poor? 

This is a damn good film, enough jumps and starts to keep you watching, never monotonous for a moment. Pity, then, that were it not for the aforementioned defect I would have rated it a bit more exalted than a...........7.

(IMDb,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,7.6 - Rott.Toms.............4.3/5 )